Understanding the Relationship Between Pet Ownership and Physical Activity Among Older Community-Dwelling Adults—A Mixed Methods Study

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Pet ownership is associated with increased levels of physical activity (PA) in older adults. Studies have mainly focused on the association between PA and dog walking; however, broader aspects of pet ownership may influence PA. The purpose of this study was to explore the association between pet ownership and incidental and purposeful PA using a mixed methods approach. Participants’ (N = 15) PA was measured for 7 days using accelerometers and diaries. Semistructured interviews explored participants’ perspectives regarding pet-related activities. Participants’ mean (SD) daily step count was 14,204 (5,061) steps, and mean (SD) sedentary time per day was 8.76 (1.18) hr. Participants strongly concurred that their pets were an integral part of their daily lives. Incidental and purposeful PA resulted from participants undertaking pet care and socially interacting with their pets. Pets may interrupt sedentary behaviors by nudging older adults to engage in PA as part of their daily lived experience.

Peacock, Netto, and McVeigh are with the School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Australia. Hill is with the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Perth, Australia. Yeung is with the School of Social Work, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Hill (anne-marie.hill@curtin.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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